Learning can be defined as the process leading to relatively permanent behavioral change or potential behavior change. As we learn we alter the way we perceive our environment and also the way we interact or behave. Learning theories are conceptual framework describing how information is absorbed, processed and retained during learning. Your daily experience plays an important role in retaining knowledge and skills. Cognitive and emotions influences also play an important role. Learning as a process focuses on what happens when learning takes place.
John B. Watson (1878-1958) was the first to study the theory behind learning and how the process affects our behavior. This is known as behaviorism. For behaviorism, learning is the acquisition of a new behavior through conditioning. Behaviorism is divided into two types of conditioning:
I. Classical Conditioning:
Classical conditioning is where behavior becomes an instinctive response to stimulus. Classical conditioning was accidently discovered by Ivan Pavlow. Pavlow discovered this type of learning through his research in digestive patterns in dogs. Through this research it was discovered that our behavior are shaped by the paring of the stimuli. For e.g. the smell of a rose can be a reminder of something or someone.
II. Operant Conditioning:
Operant Conditioning is where reward or punishment is reinforced by our behavior. Operant conditioning is a process to modify behavior through the use of positive or negative reinforcements. Operant conditioning can be seen as the thought of learning due to the natural consequences of our actions. To put it in simple words, you learn from your negative experience to ensure that next time it will be a positive experience.
Cognitivism is an information processing process involving investigation of thought and problem solving. Two key assumptions underlie this cognitive approach: that the memory system is an active organized processor of information and that prior knowledge plays an important role in learning. Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to consider how human memory works to promote learning, and an understanding of short term memory and long term memory is important to educators influenced by cognitive theory. They view learning as an internal mental process (including insight, information processing, memory and perception) where the educator focuses on building intelligence and cognitive development. The individual learner is more important than the environment. (Source Wiki)
Built on the work of Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner, constructivism emphasizes the importance of the active involvement of learners in constructing knowledge for themselves, and building new ideas or concepts based upon current knowledge and past experience. It asks why students do not learn deeply by listening to a teacher, or reading from a textbook. To design effective teaching environments, it believes, one needs a good understanding of what children already know when they come into the classroom. The curriculum should be designed in a way that builds on what the pupil already knows and is allowed to develop with them. Begin with complex problems and teach basic skills while solving these problems. This requires an understanding of children’s cognitive development, and constructivism draws heavily on psychological studies of cognitive development. (Source Wiki)